Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I did not have unethical relations with that journal -- aMs. Climate

Here is the bunnies chance to write a Climate Audit post

(h/t to Horatio)


dhogaza said...

So McI doesn't have an ethical bone in his body ... news? I think not :)

This is really typical of him, though ... rather than place an emphasis on wanting to do what's right, he's searching up and down and all over the place for justification for doing what's wrong.

Anonymous said...

So to summarize:

McI wanted to out Steig. He asked if he could. He was told he could not. He chose to ignore that and went ahead anyway. Unethical

Then, when someone chose to tell the world, he tries to run away from language. Pure idiocy.

Defending his release of Steig's identity is something I'd expect from a first-grader. It is seriously disconcerting to see an adult trying to justify the completely unjustifiable this way.

But hey, McI doesn't seem to concerned about not being honest, so then I guess it's ok..

Sou said...

McI quotes 'engineering and business' as an example where anonymity is not used. I expect that is because he couldn't refer to scholarly engineering journals, for which reviewers remain anonymous. (At least for two major professional engineering organisations that I checked, including the American Society of Civil Engineers - .)

McIntyre is a good example of why there are accepted codes of conduct and professional ethics. It's necessary to rein in the behaviour of the few unethical people out there.

Anonymous said...

"McIntyre is a good example of why there are accepted codes of conduct and professional ethics. It's necessary to rein in the behaviour of the few unethical people out there."



Anonymous said...

I think we all need to help and expand on Sou's list.....


Phil Clarke said...

We now turn our forensic audit attention over to a fellow blogger, Lucia at The Blackboard, whose characterisations of Steig as 'shameless' and comparison with'Rod Blagojevich' we have relied on repeatedly in our relentless quest to detract from the beam in our own eye.

Lucia bases her opinion of Steig as a "two-faced weasel" largely on this "deceptive mealy mouth comment" :-

Ryan, if you don't mind sending me a preprint, and a link to your reconstructed data, I'd appreciate it.

I will presumably have more to say after I get a chance to read the paper, but it'll be a month or more as I'm simply too busy with current projects.

To Lucia this is Steig disingenuously pretending not to be a reviewer. Readers are invited to consider whether the fact that Steig had not at that point seen the fourth and final draft nor the responses to his third round comments and hence had no way of knowing at that time whether the final published version had taken his comments into account, did not emerge until a day after Lucia's post absolves her from a duty to admit the error, apologise and correct the record.

Up until now discussion of O'Donnell's obligations have been declared tabu here at Climate Audit but it is now time to consider the ethical elephant in the room, Ryan's mail to Eric:

Thank you for your candor, and I will not violate the confidence of the review process. ... I give my word that I will not quote from the reviews. I will only paraphrase."

Readers may consider that had a Team member made such a commitment and then posted reviews verbatim online, Climate Audit might well have gone into meltdown. But - consider this - no actual journal rules were broken, nor is breaking a promise illegal. All that has been breached is the quaint tradition of 'my word is my bond', which has no force in law. Readers may be aware that this is the motto of the London Stock Exchange and dates from the early years of the English Financial Services industry where an individual's reputation for honesty and integrity actually had monetary value. The relevance of such qualities to the modern world of engineering and climate auditry may escape some readers.

I have now expended many words and thrown sufficient sand in the air to demonstrate conclusively that Ryan was so provoked by Steig's savage mauling of his use of a method that Steig as reviewer 'insisted' he use (well, when I say 'insisted' I mean he recommended the editor insist iridge be shown, well, when I say iridge I mean the 'most likely' result be shown, which was definitely iridge as proposed by Steig, well, when I say proposed by Steig I mean proposed by the authors, when I say proposed ....) the only possible course of action was for Ryan to conclude that his 'promise' was now null and void (in fact void ab initio as we blog lawyers say). Yes, Ryan technically gave his word in writing, and then broke it, BUT....

Eric made him do it.

Deech56 said...


Andy S said...

Sou: McI quotes 'engineering and business' as an example where anonymity is not used.

Business and engineering audits are indeed signed but there are some crucial differences with the academic review process, which strain the comparison beyond any usefulness.

First, business audits are usually intended to be published. In the process of making a business technical review, there is often a fair bit of to-and-fro between the business and the independent experts. These exchanges are never published. If an analogy were to be drawn between business and academic reviews, it's the published paper and the technical audit that are comparable, not the academic peer review and the audit. Business audits are rarely themselves publicly reviewed. Indeed, commonly accepted ethical standards among professional engineers and geoscientists discourage public criticism of another auditor/expert's work.

Second, the business selects and pays its independent reviewer and, in the case of technical reports, is not usually under any obligation to publish them. I doubt that McIntyre (or anyone else) would approve of a system in which "The Team" got to pick and remunerate the reviewers of their own papers. The public is expected to accept the assessment of the auditor (since the data that the audit is based on is usually proprietary and confidential), based on the auditor's qualifications and reputation, so obviously an anonymous audit would have little value. In the case of an academic paper, the review is mainly for the benefit and consideration of the editor, who, of course, knows the identity of the reviewers.

I too wish that more academic reviews were more frequently signed and even routinely published. But the reality is that this activity is unpaid work that brings few rewards to the reviewer and, as the Steig affair has shown, the risk of negative consequences when controversies become fraught with bitterness.

Sou said...

Andy S - to take your analogy further, I'd liken the published comments on published papers and follow up published papers - to the published business/government audits. The review comments can be likened to internal review and polishing rather than external independent audits.

There is no need for pre-publication reviews to be made public that I can see, and plenty of reason for them to remain confidential. There is ample opportunity after publication to refute, rebut, debunk, support, whatever - all with names attached and in full view of the public.

If there was a major problem with the existing process I'm sure, given the various egos among research scientists, and the reliance on good science by policy makers and practitioners, we would have heard of it some time in the past few decades / centuries.

A hissy fit by amateurs new to the process doesn't rate.

Pinko Punko said...

In my field, you simply pretend you didn't review it, but if the paper is interesting and you would like to discuss it with the author, and in this case the paper was very publicly discussed as being ABOUT Steig's work, of course he would want to think about and discuss the data, and he would like to do so in an ethical fashion. To do so would require him to have a preprint, and he would have to ask for it. Just ridiculous. I could not disagree with Lucia more.

Horatio Algeranon said...

Seems that a new version of Godwin's law has arisen:

Godwin's Climate Corollary:

"Any discussion of a climate scientist in certain forums will eventually (within the post itself or the first 5 comments) devolve into a comparison of the scientist to Rod Blagojevich"

*Also known as "Reductio ad Blagojevichum**, and "argumentum ad Blagojevichum"

**Spelled Blogojevichum when it is used on a blog (of course) and "Blogojevichums" when it refers to a "Team" of scientists (especially peer reviewers).

Anonymous said...

Peer review is really corrupt, Part LIX


The CAbal team

We last week submitted our new results and analysis using Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge algorithm to the JofUR. The algorithm's inputs were "peer review", "steig", "neilsen-gammon", "science". The output was Sgt Highway's 'Why don't I bend you over the table there... send you home with the "I just pumped the neighbor's cat" look on your face.'

However, despite following the journal's "Instructions for Authors" to the letter, our new, important paper (entitled "Calumny revisited") containing this new finding was rejected out-of-hand. Yes! Literally within minutes of e-mail submission we had a reply informing us that the paper was rejected. We are baffled by this continued rejection by the scientific establishment.

But we will not rest. "Peer review is really corrupt, Part LX" is currently being written and will soon be submitted to the JofUR.


Cymraeg llygoden

[HT to Feedback @ , a publication that, after around 30 years of readership, I shall in some respects regret not receiving in future.]

Anonymous said...

New Scientist disappeared in the HT after the "at" symbol in the above.

I guess that was an HTML thing.

Makes more sense with it known, I hope!

Cymraeg llygoden

Pinko Punko said...

This is the heart of Ryan being upset:

BLOCKQUOTE "Returning to the situation at hand, I think most of us who have taken the opportunity to read the paper, the reviews, and the blog posts have general agreement that Eric’s understanding of iRidge falls short of “expert”. Exactly how much he understands, I do not know . . . but he certainly does not seem to consider himself an expert. This places him in a position where it is not possible for him to judge with certainty how use of this particular algorithm would affect the reconstruction. However, he says, to an audience that is also unlikely to have the knowledge to independently evaluate the claim:

“It is not surprising that O’Donnell et al (2010), by using iridge, do indeed appear to have dramatically underestimated long-term trends—the Byrd comparison leaves no other possible conclusion.”" END BLOCKQUOTE

So the "no other possible conclusion" statement is it. This is what Ryan takes as Steig stating "as fact" when Steig was stating it as the result of train of thought leading to a conclusion. Ryan is trying to take this into a parsing game concering his non-academic ears clashing with some "academic" world. This makes it even more sad. If you turn your head you just so you can convince yourself that "no other possible conclusion" means "fact" when this sort of language is used by large numbers of people to cap their arguments that may or may not be persuasive. The language is clearly one of opinion.

John said...

Physics and chemistry journals use anonymous peer review: the authors don't know the identity of the reviewers. The editor knows, of course.

ianash said...

Did Horatio ever find out what "this" meant?

Martin Vermeer said...

> "Blogojevichums"

Surely you mean "Blogojevichae"

...although "chae" is not the plural of "chum"...

Rattus Norvegicus said...


In the context used in the N-G email it refers to the statement in the paragraph just before. You'd have to be pretty dense or a non-native speaker of English in order not to understand this. Only one of those pertains to McI.

Anonymous said...

Fancy that, Steve McIntyre still trying on the old engineering analogy to research science.

Granted, he may have mistakenly believed it to be appropriate way back when he knew absolutely nothing about climate science.

Now it's just pure disingenuousness.

It ain't known as Climate frAudit for nothin'.

Anonymous Etc.

dhogaza said...

"Fancy that, Steve McIntyre still trying on the old engineering analogy to research science."

I imagine that if he tried to fit the old engineering analogy to engineering research his head would explode :)

Steve Bloom said...

It's engineering as understood by a finance guy. In the context of mining (McI's background) in particular, I'm not sure that either is in good odor.

Sloop said...

If O'Donnellgate weren't so sad when viewed from the larger context of advancing climate mitigation policy, the buffoonery inherent to the adolescent yelps of 'injustice' by the Climate frAuditors that sparked this blogo-battle are *hilarious* (notwithstanding Dr. Steig's justifiable fury).

Thanks for all the clever retorts and juicy sarcasm folks. I enjoy following along on the bunny trail for the wit as much as the substance because it helps to ameliorate the dread I feel in dealing with climate science policy from within gov.

Anonymous said...

McI's background is not just "mining". He was involved in writing prospectus's for many small cap venture mining companies that he had a significant "interest" in (if not the outright owner), where manipulating the truth was not to be worried about. (See the Bre-X fiasco) Money was to be made by skimming salaries and directors benefits from the share-holders coffers.

I believe his main purpose is to create "FUD" where ever possible, to
promulgate his libertarian philsophy. (as helped by his american think tanks)
As such, do not expect any moral or ethical behavior from him.

As such he is the anti-bunny. The bunny Rork. The Monty Python Bunny. The bunny with no heart.


J Bowers said...

"to promulgate his libertarian philsophy"

Whoa. He did stand before the last Heartland conference attendees and told them he doesn't share their libertarianpolitics, which coupled with his condemnation of Cuccinelli's witch hunting, went down like a lead balloon. He also told the audience at the Guardian debate last year that if he were in government he'd have started mitigation by now.

I'm no fan of his by any means, but if he ain't libertarian then it's just how it is.